Joe Bonamassa to hit the studio in March to a record a “subway album“ in NYC

Joe Bonamassa
(Image credit: Gus Stewart/Redferns)

Joe Bonamassa is heading to New York City in late March to record what the MusicRadar Blues Guitarist of the Year calls a “subway album“ – a stripped down recording that aims to capture the energy of the city in the performances.

Bonamassa was speaking with MusicRadar about Guitar Man, the recently released documentary feature exploring the blues-rock phenomenon's career, when attention turned to 2021. While could not say when there would be live dates, cautioning against anyone getting their hopes up that concerts as we know them returning before the summer, he said he would have a new album out by then.

By the time we tour again, there will be two albums that we haven’t toured on

Joe Bonamassa

“By the time we tour again there will be two albums that we haven’t toured on,“ he said, referencing Royal Tea, which was released in October, and the as yet untitled album, scheduled to for recording in spring. “We are making a record in New York City in late March, and it is basically going to be a ‘subway record’ – a couple of guitars, a couple of amps.“

While Royal Tea was recorded at EMI's Abbey Road Studios, with the abundant gear options that entails, this recording was going to be a more stripped-down affair. For one of the world's foremost collectors of electric guitars, it's going to be an exercise in less is more.

“That’s just how I used to do it,“ explained Bonamassa. “Take the subway down to the studio – cash and carry!  The records in my world? Y’know, you’ve got production cases and I have a collection of guitars, and you have got all of these options, and it is almost too much.

“You don’t need half of it, and you end up just playing, ‘Yeah, whatever!’ Now, it's two amps, in case one blows up. Not two amps at a time, just in case one blows up. Add a couple of guitars and you’re good.”

Bonamassa did not have any titles to share but he did say he hoped the change of environment and New York itself would give the album a different energy.

Y’know, you’ve got production cases and I have a collection of guitars, and you have got all of these options, and it is almost too much. You don’t need half of it

Joe Bonamassa

“I think that is going to influence the sound, like Abbey Road influenced the sound,“ he said “I have always wanted to do a record in New York... And hopefully there is a New York [as we know it] by then!”

All things considered, Joe Bonamassa has had a big year. He released the first Sleep Eazys record in March, unveiled an Epiphone signature 'Black Beauty' Les Paul Custom, livestreamed a show at the Ryman, released his own solo album, Royal Tea, in October, and then only last week released a documentary about his career, Guitar Man.

Speaking about the movie, Bonamassa hoped it would inspire people from all walks of life just to follow their passion. “The movie applies to anybody who has ever felt like they have been outcast or not allowed to participate in something that they are passionate about,“ he said. 

Guitar Man” is released on video-on-demand and digital by Paramount Home Entertainment. Order the documentary from iTunes.

Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars and guitar culture since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitar World. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.